The Green and Fertile Big Island

Tropical Orchids at Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens

One of the most striking things first felt by new and recurring visitors to Hawaii, is the overwhelming sense of fertility, the lush vegetation, the sweet smelling flowers and orchids right when you get off the plane in the open air airport. Right as you arrive, the wonderful smells of plumeria flowers, blooming orchids, and tropical flowers and fruits will overcome you. Although the big Island boasts nearly a dozen different climate zones, the most memorable is the tropical vegetation. You get a great sense of this as your aircraft circles the north eastern slopes of Mauna Kea on your arrival into Hilo airport and as you look below and to the right of you, you see dense green jungle weaving its way on the eastern slopes of the volcano. As you peer down through your airline window, you will make out many streams and river tributaries spilling from waterfalls that are carved into the sides of the ocean cliffs. On the Hamakua Coast, the lush jungle vegetation creeps right up to the edge of the rocky shoreline carved out by steep gullies and the occasional dousing rain shower. The beautiful tropical flowers are everywhere, starting right there at the airport with the sweet smelling leis hung from visitors necks. The ever present lightly blowing Pacific breeze brings all the fresh smells of nature right to you. Even the rainstorms here on the big Island, bring an added sense of freshness that you just don’t feel from the precipitation on the mainland.

Lush Rainforest, Hamakua Coast

You can get a sense of the wonderful harmony of green trees and perfectly manicured flowers at the local Japanese gardens such as Queen Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo. For greater adventure, take a trip to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens situated on the Hamakua coast. Here, you can indulge yourself in an extensive garden that offers winding nature trails surrounded by tropical flowers, plants, trees, and great views of the dramatic coastline as it gets pounded by the waves. To get a real sense of the dense vegetation that covers such a large portion of the big Island, all you need to do is take a short trip and hike around the rain forests nearby. You can come up close and personal to the beautiful rain forest in the volcanoes national Park. As you drive down the Chain of Craters Road, you’ll wander through the canopied rain forest and see prehistoric-era ferns swarming the sides of the road. Also, close to downtown Hilo, is Rainbow Falls where you can see the swollen falls after a rainstorm and admire the tall trees and fertile wilderness. At the edge of Hilo town, is the Panaewa Zoo where you can also get a very good sense of the rain forest. On the surrounding hills, is foliage so thick walking through will bring ground brush up your thighs or waste. Yes, Hilo is the green side of the island and you can expect nothing less than a fertile aromatic paradise – in between rainy downpours.

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